Some one-on-one time has turned Masetto from a hothead to a potential big cup winner next season, a path that could continue at Ruakaka today.
Small-time trainer Allan Smith only prepares five horses from his South Auckland base and that one-man band set up has helped Masetto rediscover his best form, as he showed when smashing many of his rivals today by five lengths the last time he went to Ruakaka.
He rises in the weights today, lumped with a carded 62kg but getting a 3kg allowance with apprentice Eilish McCall riding, and Smith says Masetto should turn up in the same form.
"He seems like he is holding [his form] well so there is no reason to expect him to go backwards," says Smith. "The weight is a concern for sure though."
Masetto has always promised to be a good open handicapper and finished second in the Waikato Cup last season and fourth in the same race this term.
Smith didn't train him then but was entrusted with the huge gelding three starts ago in an effort to calm him down.
"He was quite a hot horse so I do almost everything with him myself to calm him down," he explains.
"I feed him, canter him, take him to the paddock myself and I think that smaller stable life has helped him become a more relaxed horse and that is helping him on the track.
"I am stoked the owners gave me him to train as he is the best horse I have had. This will be his last run this time in and then we can look at some nice races next season."
The question surrounding today's $32,500 Whangarei Gold Cup may come down to whether Masetto can give his last-start runner-up Steven James more weight and still beat him, with the latter probably the better each-way bet at his $6.50 fixed odds quote.
Earlier in the meeting one of the last 2-year-old races of the season also looks likely to provide punters with some value in topweight Follow Your Dreams, albeit in a field with some trials form around his rivals.
Follow Your Dreams was an early season flyer who started under $10 in the Karaka Million but peaked on his run late when finishing fourth fresh-up here last start.
"You can blame me for that," admits co-trainer Kenny Rae.
"I had him a run short but he will improve this time and he is a good horse so he will be hard to beat.
"There isn't much between him and our filly [Dream Queen] but he has the better race brain at this stage."
Local trainer Rae opts for Irish Girl [R6, No3] as his stable's best chance for the day, although baulking somewhat at her $2.50 odds.
While Ruakaka will provide the northern racing action, Trentham holds their strongest jumping meeting of the season with both the Wellington Steeples and Hurdles.
The winners will earn their money with the two $75,000 races to be run on a Heavy11 surface, although the Wellington Steeplechase course can provide variable footing different from the official rating.
As good as the steeples will be, the hurdles looks a beauty with Awapuni Hurdles winner Chief Sequoyah and the in-form El Luchador and Richard Of Yorke up against the Kevin Myers-trained pair of Tallyho Twinkletoes and Aigne, with the latter looking ideally suited to the conditions.